Former President Donald Trump has been the subject of a criminal investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, two impeachment investigations led by House Democrats, and a two-year special counsel investigation led by a legendary former FBI director. His real estate company that bears his name, The Trump Organization, is currently awaiting trial on tax fraud charges, and more than a few of his former close associates have served time in federal prison for things he did while on the job.
But after each case, the former president came out unscathed, often claiming that the lack of consequences for him meant he was acquitted.
His response to facing the scrutiny of any government authority has been remarkably consistent. Regardless of the topic under investigation, he calls it a “witch hunt,” tells his followers that the investigators are biased against him and convinces himself that the findings, no matter how wrong they may appear, are illegitimate.
But more than 18 months after a mob of supporters stormed the US Capitol at his urging, Trump may have run out of luck, following Tuesday’s January 6 House Select Committee hearing. During that hearing, a 25-year-old former aide to one of Trump’s closest White House aides unpacked bomb after bomb about what his closest aides were saying and doing before the violent riots.
The testimony of a former White House aide to the Select Committee, and the millions watching the televised proceedings, provided the most detailed account yet of how Mr. Trump and his top aides acted before and during the pro-Trump brawl.
The startling information that Hutchinson revealed included: Mr. Trump grabbed the steering wheel of his presidential limousine in an attempt to go to the Capitol to join his supporters; Mr. Trump’s chief of staff warned that things could turn “real, very bad” on January 6; Mr. Trump threw his lunch against the wall when then-Attorney General Bill Barr dismissed allegations of mass voter fraud in the 2020 election; Members of Mr Trump’s inner circle have asked for a pardon after the violence.
Although Mr Trump and his GOP allies have tried to punch holes in the testimony given by his former aide, legal experts say many of the more explosive moments she recounted during her appearance before the committee may be enough to finally open the floodgates for legal consequences.
Perhaps the most serious allegations in the former Trump aide’s remarks before the committee dealt with Mr. Trump’s reaction to the security cordon set up around the Ellipse, the green space south of the White House where he spoke on the day of the riot.
At the site of any public appearances by a current or former chief, the Secret Service generally creates an outside perimeter that no one can pass without being scanned by magnetometers, or airport-style metal detectors.
On January 6, the agency had good reason to carefully screen attendees. The select committee released audio taken from radio traffic for the Secret Service and the Metropolitan Police Department, which revealed that officers had spotted several Trump supporters packing weapons (in violation of D.C. law) including Glock pistols and AR-15-style rifles.
Under normal circumstances, any unauthorized person carrying a weapon would not approach the President. But Ms. Hutchinson told the select committee that Mr. Trump had angrily demanded a halt to screening of rally-goers for weapons.
“When we were in a tent offstage… I was in close proximity to a conversation in which I heard the chief say something touching, ‘I don’t care that they have weapons, they are not here to hurt me, take [f**king magnetometers] Away, let the people in… They’re not here to hurt me. take [f**king] cups away. Let my people come in. They can walk to the Capitol from here,” she recalled, recalling Mr.
The former Trump aide also said her supervisor, Mr. Meadows, was not interested in reports that the Secret Service had become aware of people carrying weapons – firearms and melee weapons such as flagpole spears – near the White House.
In the aftermath of the Capitol attack, Republicans defended Mr. Trump from his second impeachment by saying that the crowd that stormed the Capitol was unarmed and stressed that Mr. Trump did not encourage them to riot. But Hutchinson’s testimony contradicts those outdated defenses.
Nick Ackerman, a former assistant US attorney who spent time working in the Southern District of New York and as a special prosecutor at Watergate, said, independent Hutchinson’s testimony made Trump’s responsibility for the violence “very clear” and said the former Trump aide had provided evidence that could lead to indictments on several federal charges.
“You’ve got everything from sedition to obstruction of Congress to defrauding the United States,” he said.
Ackerman described the disclosure of Mr. Trump’s reaction to the magnetometers used to keep armed supporters away from him as a smoke pistol that puts his speech on that day in an entirely different light.
He said the fact that Mr. Trump knows his supporters are armed negates any defense he could make on the basis of the First Amendment.
“If he was talking to a group of Guild members… standing there on their walkers, that would be one thing. But instead, he knew he was talking to a group of people with AR-15s, Glocks, and other weapons… rushing from Someone else’s sake,” he said. “And who is that person other than members of Congress?”
“From the attorney general’s point of view, it does reveal the fact that yes, there were multiple crimes,” he added.
One of the lawyers who defended Trump during the two-year investigation led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller, T Cobb, said the investigation into the former president’s actions would be very different from previous Justice Department efforts.
Cope called Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s alleged ties to Russia unnecessary. But he said in an interview with CNN that investigating what the former president did before and during the Capitol attack would be a different matter.
said Cobb, who also cited Ms Hutchinson’s testimony about Mr Trump’s knowledge that the mob was privately armed on his former client, as well as his alleged approval of rioters’ calls to hang then Vice President Mike Pence.
He added that if it was not an act of disobedience, “I don’t know what is.”
Another former federal attorney general, Renato Mariotti, a partner of Thomson Coburn, said Hutchinson’s testimony made it more likely that Trump would face criminal charges.
Writing on Twitter, Mariotti described the former Trump White House aide’s evidence as “actually impressive[ing] Ball forward significantly toward a possible trial of the Justice Department’s ex-president.
“What makes [her] The testimony is different in that it included a guilty affidavit that gives us a window into Trump’s mental state that can be admissible in court against Trump.
He, too, referred to Mr. Trump’s alleged remark about getting rid of magnetometers as incredibly damaging to any attempt to claim that the former president’s invitation to his supporters to the Capitol was a protected speech under the First Amendment.
“Certification that Trump said he didn’t care that they had guns… they weren’t here to hurt me” and that they were going to the Capitol later is exactly the kind of “devastating” evidence needed to prove that the person speaking was intended to incite imminent violence.” Hutchinson’s testimony Changed the rules of the game. So far, what I’ve seen have been potentially narrow criminal charges against fraudulent lawyers, it now appears unlikely that a soliciting trial will take place.”